Li Hongren was born in 1931 in Beijing. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1955 and taught elsewhere in China. He joined the teaching staff of the Lithography Section of the Central Academy, and is regarded as one of the founders of Chinese lithographic printmaking within the art academies. In 1983, Li spent two months at the Manchester Print Workshop in the University of Salford.
Li is a painter of water colors and a graphic artist, specialized in industrial scenes and portraits. Since the 1980s, Li's work has been more experimental in nature. He collaborated with Dong Gang.